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The CHIRP Blog

Eddie writesTake Two: “These Eyes” (The Guess Who Vs. Jr. Walker & The All Stars)

by Eddie Sayago

There is a chance that you have come across a song (or two, or so many more) that you enjoy and did not realize that it's either been covered by someone else or is a cover itself. We hope that this series allows you to appreciate both the original and the covers they have inspired, and to seek out and enjoy new music in the process.

For this entry, we take a look at a love song that was performed by two very different performers and released in the same year.

The Original: The Guess Who
From the album Wheatfield Soul (RCA, 1969)

Three albums into their career, Canadian rock band The Guess Band took a couple different steps in their journey. First, they got a new lead singer, Burton Cummings, replacing original lead Chad Allen. Next, they leaned into psychedelic and British rock influences for Wheatfield Soul (album #4).

The album wasn’t a big commercial success but “These Eyes” became a hit in their native Canada and their first Top 10 hit in the U.S. (peaked at #6 on Billboard Hot 100), so 1969 wasn’t too bad. And guess what? Their biggest success arrived the following year with their first #1 hit song and album of the same name, "American Woman."

 

The Cover: Jr. Walker & The All Stars
From the album Gotta Hold On To This Feeling (Soul, 1969)

A few months after The Guess Who released “These Eyes,” Motown vet Jr. Walker recorded his take for the album Gotta Hold On To This Feeling, and he earned a Top 20 hit in the process (peaked at #16 on Billboard Hot 100). The saxophone is a prominent performer in his version, appearing at the beginning of the song, right up to Walker’s soulful vocal delivery.

Beginning his career in the 1950s as a multi-instrumentalist and studio session player, Walker’s signature song is “Shotgun,” a dance song that also marked his singing debut. When the original singer didn’t arrive at the recording session, Walker stepped in and producer Berry Gordy kept his take and Walker sang on the majority of his material for the rest of his career. 

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Categorized: Take Two

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